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Dog Fleas

The Common Dog Flea

THE COMMON DOG FLEA or Ctenocephalides canis, is a species of flea which lives primarily on the blood of dogs.


Although these fleas feed on the blood of dogs and cats, they will also at times bite humans. The dog flea presents a major problem as it can spread internal parasites such as Dipylidium Caninum also called the cucumber tapeworm or the double-pore tapeworm which can average tape worm20cm in length, and a less common worm which although affecting dogs less frequently, called Dipetalonema Reconditum, lives under the skin of the dog and can cause extreme itchiness.  Other health problems include Tularaemia, which is a disease that results in fever, a loss of appetite with subsequent weight loss and lethargy. It may not be a common infection but is devastating.

Once a dog becomes infested with fleas it opens the door to numerous secondary illnesses as well as loss of hair through severe scratching leading to open wounds, infections and scars, and evdog fleas and effectsen flea allergy. Yes, dogs can become allergic to fleas, and as funny as that may sound, it can be devastating to the unfortunate dog unless treated correctly and quickly. Flea infestations may be annoying for dogs and humans and some people do actually think of the problem as being totally natural and nothing to be alarmed about, but they are also dangerous. Anaemia in dogs with severe flea infestation is very common whilst flea allergy dermatitis developed by dogs which are allergic to the flea saliva, will directly cause extreme itching, swelling, and even respiratory distress. Through compulsive scratching and biting, the dog may lose hair, get bald spots and develop infections that in turn may smell and look most unpleasant, and of utmost concern it will also cause the dog to suffer and be in pain.

When a dog has a loving owner,

they will usually buy one of a thousand plus treatments off the shelf, but should the flea problem not respond to the application bought, be it a lotion, a spray, a powder, an electronic gadget or anything in between, it is advised to seek veterinary advice without delay to help determine exactly what flea problem the dog is suffering from, especially as many symptoms of flea-borne illness and disease can seem similar and needs to be identified and treated correctly.

Once you have treated your dog and subsequently your home, you want to ensure that the flea will NOT RETURN. The best way to avoid the possibly devastating effects of dog fleas is to prevent fleas all together. Flea collars are popular for both dogs and cats as are topical drops applied to the nape of the neck once every few weeks or more (depending upon type), and are simple treatments which will keep the dog free from fleas and their effects. The simplicity and effectiveness of maintaining a flea clear dog and home, becomes relatively cheap and extremely effective compared to the pain, cost and trauma experience when a dog is allowed to become infested.

Once a dog has fleas, its home which is shared with its owner, will also become infested with eggs and larvae which are left around the house wherever the dog may go, rest or scratch. Once the dog’s home is infested, it can become impossible to eliminate fleas on the dog, as it becomes a constant vicious circle. Therefore the home must also be sprayed and cleaned against the dog flea. For some people it can be stigmatizing to be flea infested as others will commonly take this as a sign of being dirty, which really has little to do with it.

The dog flea's mouthparts are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. They can live without food for several months, however, females must have a blood meal before they can produce eggs. Each dog flea can produce about 4000 eggs. The eggs go through four stages, 1 embryo, 2 larva, 3 pupa, and  4 adult (imago). To go from stage 1 to 4 will take 2 to 3 weeks, although much will depend upon temperature, in colder climates it may take longer.

dog flea life-cycle dog flea anatomy

Fleas don't have wings, their bodies are hard and flattened from side-to-side with hairs and spines, which, combined with long hind legs makes it easy for them to move through the hairs of their victims.

Many pet stores have good advice and guidance available, but many will not, so please keep in mind that your dog needs treatment which will work and prevent him or her from suffering, so ensure you follow advice which is reliable and trusted.